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The US Congress and a gun society

Las Vegas shooting left 58 dead and more than 500 wounded. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The images are still very clear in the minds of those who witnessed America’s worst mass shooting in its history, when a moment of absolute horror in Las Vegas erupted at the hands of a gunman who managed to smuggle an arsenal of guns and ammunition undetected into the Mandalay Bay Hotel complex.

From the 32nd floor, he targeted a live, open-air concert leaving 58 dead and more than 500 wounded. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, took his own life as SWAT teams blasted their way into his room with guns blazing.

The incident, another nightmare of someone with weapons more powerful than some used in the D-Day invasion in Normandy during the Second World War, once again brought the issue of gun control in America to the forefront. However, there is a view that not much will change, since gun lobbyists and the National Rifle Association are believed to have many politicians fearful of losing support from a powerful group who cite the Second Amendment as giving people the right to own any weapon of choice to defend themselves.

In the past decade, there have been so many mass shootings in America, with heavy loss of life, and on each occasion that sensitive issue of having better gun control was tossed about, with politicians squirming over what to do in a nation where so many Americans cherish the possession of weapons of all types with a passion that seems to rise above the safety factor when such weapons fall into the wrong hands.

There are billions of dollars involved in gun sales and no shortage of gun shows where weapons are purchased at times with little or no background checks of the purchaser.

Most politicians on both sides of Congress know gun violence in America will not be eliminated, no matter what type of legislation is passed, but many argue that with tighter controls on rapid-firing weapons normally found on battlefields, banning them from public use, there could be the opening for at least a move to gain control over the amount of deadly weapons that police and law enforcement are confronted with.

Some of these weapons are so powerful they can penetrate a policeman’s bulletproof vest and exit the other side with sufficient force to kill another person. Many Americans feel such weapons are not needed in normal community living, and no one should be allowed to own weapons designed for warfare.

Even with debate raging in the United States over what action the US Congress should take to prevent tragedies such as what happened in Las Vegas, there are moves by gun lobbyists to have the Government make the use of silencers legal. One can only imagine the toll had silencers been used by that lone gunman when he fired on those innocent people attending that concert. Despite the shock, pain, and grief that stunned that nation once again, a number of victims who survived previous shooting incidents have little faith that anything positive will be forthcoming from Capitol Hill.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, wife of the astronaut Mark Kelly, was badly wounded by a gunman several years ago. Kelly told newsmen after the Las Vegas incident that he feels it will be only a matter time before the next incident — and the next and the next — until Congress has the guts to make a positive stand against evil. As long as guns are held as jewels by too many Americans, the likelihood of yet another tragedy is very much on the cards.

In Chicago, there are parts where death by gunfire is so frequent that much of it seldom makes headlines.

Few would not admit that America has a gun problem, and that if legislators are hesitant to bring about change in gun control, the door will remain open for people with evil intent to attack the values that America was founded on. It will be a test for America to show the world that they can and will do something about deadly weapons being so readily available to people with evil motives.

It is a challenge for Republicans and Democrats, and only time will tell how that challenge is met.